This is a companion blog post to the lecture International Communication in the Digital Era, at St. John’s University, April 11th, for the course International Communication (Asia and the Middle east).

The assigned topic was Int’l Comm in the Internet Era, but I tweaked it a bit, for the following reasons:

– The Internet is a true global platform of convergence, but especially in terms of developing countries, mobile communication has become important (as, for instance, this recent article in the Economist documents). Communication is increasingly digital, the forms of it just mutate to for different distribution platforms and consumption purposes.

– I chose to take one country from which examples could be drawn. I strongly believe that while we are experiencing socio-cultural, economic tendencies that could be called ‘international’ or even ‘global’, and that pertains to communication as well, we need a perspective to understand different dimensions of those tendencies. For me, an interesting way to narrow down examples is to look at international trends, links, flows from a viewpoint of  a country, since (1) that grounds the examples and may even show their interconnectedness, and (2) that opens vistas to other contextual questions: To what extent are things international, transnational, global, to what extend glocal, regional, local?

Incredible India!

For this lecture, we’re looking at India, ‘Incredible India!’ as a tourism slogan goes, referringto the rich and diverse cultural heritage of the country. There are also other ones, ‘Shining India’ (economic success, including the ITC sector), and ‘India Inclusive’ (a new one, addressing the socio-economic disparities of the country).

Some facts about India:

1.2 billion inhabitants (2011 Census). “The Most Populous Democracy in the World”. 7th largest country in the world by geographical area.

– 22 official languages. Literacy rate 65%.

– Some 1/3rd of the people live in poverty (here are some World Bank indicators of the economy and development).

– “Experiment in liberal capitalism!” “India as a laboratory for the world!”

– Very particular media markets: Thanks to the growth of the middle class, the press and radio markets are still growing. Contents are being localized.  Deregulation and globalization are present in India, too. Restrictions on foreign ownership have been lifted; and for instance for the internet protocol television the foreign ownership can be up to 74%. Satellite TV has been very influential in bringing in foreign media conglomerates from Sony to Disney and News Corp.

– ITCs: India is known as a country of outsourcing, software development. Only 70 million Indians are active internet users (some say 52 million); in contrast to 471 million mobile phone users (some say India is particularly well-suited for mobile communication!).

Sources for structural and market information: Kohli-Khandekar’s ‘The Indian Media Business‘; PWC’s market report, Vibodh Parthasarathi’s blog entry about challenges and advocacy.

Ways of Seeing

International communication can be looked at from different angles. Here are some we discussed:

Pippa Norris talks about cultural flows, diversity, and Cosmopolitan Communications (in this book).

Manuel Castells, among others, talks about the new  global public sphere. Clay Shirky discusses about levels of participation, some are just for fun but some have higher, civic purpose. He believes that our ‘cognitive surplus’ makes us active creators of common good. (see a video here and here).

Evgeny Morozov, in contrast, is skeptical and has coined the term ‘The Net Delusion‘.

Here’s an approach, and a report, by the International Telecommunication Union, on ICTs and development, measuring the situation in 159 countries!


Long Shot: The Tablet!

See also this World Bank blog entry on the theme!

Medium Shot: Citizen Journalism and the New News!

Here’s also an interesting account on the case.

Close-up: Identities

Extra Self Study! Check out this wonderful animation film Sita Sings the Blues, available online:

…and read the director’s interviews. How does that movie exemplify all levels, or camera shots, of ICTs and international communication?

Finally, For Additional Information: This is a wonderful book about Indian Media in  Globalised World.